Team player: Fort Frye hoops standout headed to Fairmont State

BEVERLY – Deidra Combs is an all-around, team basketball player.

Depending on the situation on the hardwood, the 5-foot-10 Fort Frye graduate can shoot, rebound, dish, defend, and provide leadership.

In a nutshell, she’s a coach’s dream and winner.

“Deidra is one of those players with so many qualities,” said Fort Frye girls head basketball coach Dan Liedtke. “No. 1, she’s a great athlete and with her athleticism, she has speed and is so versatile. She has really good hands and can elevate so well.

“She was our ‘middle man’ and helped dribble when other teams pressed us. And she also can play down in the post with her jumping ability. She has a great pull-up jumper. She’s just an all-around player on offense and defense.”

Mindful of all this, Fairmont State University’s basketball people liked what they saw in Combs, and offered her a scholarship.

“I took it,” said the soft-spoken Combs. “It’s a full ride.”

Combs, who graduated from FFHS with a 3.922 GPA, is planning to major in pre-med at FSU.

“I know there’s going to be a lot of school ahead of me,” she said.

Combs said she also considered attending Marietta College, where one of her Lady Cadet teammates (Morgan Liedtke) will be going, and Carson-Newman College in Jefferson City, Tn.

“I like Coach Mac (Steve McDonald), and I’m really excited about going to Fairmont State,” Combs said.

Fairmont State is an NCAA Division II school, located in Fairmont, W.Va., about a half-hour drive south of Morgantown. The Fighting Falcons, under McDonald, have enjoyed a winning tradition for the past 11 seasons.

This past winter, FSU was 23-10 overall, which included a berth in the NCAA Tournament.

In a sense, Combs will be going from one winning program at the prep level to another collegiately.

At Fort Frye, Combs, a 1,000-point plus career scorer, was a four-year starter on the hardwood. Capping her senior year on a high note, she helped lead the Lady Cadets (25-4) to their first-ever appearance at the state tournament at Value City Arena in Columbus.

“I’ve been watching Deidra play since she was in elementary school,” Dan Liedtke said. “When she was a varsity freshman, she stepped right in there and started.

“She’s been a trooper since Day 1, and was a big part of our success.”

Last winter in the D3 regional clincher, a 58-43 regional triumph over Johnstown-Monroe at Logan, Combs tallied 8 points, grabbed 9 caroms, had five steals, and dished out four assists. Fort then bowed out in the state semi, dropping a 43-40 decision to Columbus Africentric. Combs scored a team-high 12 points and collected nine boards in the loss.

Despite the setback….

“That was a lot of fun and definitely the main highlight of my high school career,” said Combs of competing at state. “I’m going to miss my teammates so much.”

Two of Combs’ teammates will also be playing college basketball next winter – Taylor Buchanan at Palm Beach (Fla.) Atlantic University and Morgan Liedtke at MC.

After her senior season, Combs was awarded several honors, including all-state status for the second consecutive year. During the 2012-13 campaign, she averaged 11 points, 5 rebounds and 2 assists per game.

Combs also played in the Battle Against Cystics Fibrosis (BACF) girls’ basketball classic at Parkersburg South’s Rod Oldham Athletic Center, and scored six points as the Ohio all-stars beat West Virginia, 74-72.

She also won the free-throw shooting skills competition at the BACF Classic.

Combs was also on the South roster in the annual Ohio North-South All-Star basketball game played at Capital University.

Also a standout volleyball player at Fort Frye, Combs was instrumental in helping the Cadet netters post their first sectional championship since 2001.

This summer, Combs is employed by the county as a “traffic flagger.” She’s also of course working out and getting ready for basketball at Fairmont State.

“I definitely feel that she will do well there (at Fairmont State),” Dan Liedtke said.

Combs is the youngest daughter of Rob and Chris Combs. She has an older sister Darci, who is attending Marietta College.